Conference to address economic issues for regionWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Branding Ohio as the “State of Perfect Balance” is one of the primary messages for the audience attending the 2008 State of the Region Conference Jan. 30 at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg.
The sixth annual conference, presented by the Center for Regional Development at Bowling Green State University, is expected to attract 300 business and civic leaders from throughout the 27-county northwest section of Ohio.
“The purpose of the conference is to create public dialogue on critical issues involving the region’s economy,” said Michael Carroll, Ph.D., director of the Center for Regional Development at BGSU, who will present the opening remarks at 8:30 a.m.
“We have better regional planning in Northwest Ohio than we’ve ever had previously,” said Carroll, citing the cooperation of various economic development and government agencies with the institutions of higher education. “Academia has played a significant role in recent years.”
C. Robert Sawyer, who directs the Economic Development Administration’s Chicago regional office for the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Ed Burghard, executive director of the Ohio Business Development Coalition, are the keynote speakers at this year’s conference.
Sawyer will discuss the economic development strengths and weaknesses of the six states his regional office covers. He will offer some economic strategies, such as rekindling a culture and practice of entrepreneurship.
His office is responsible for awarding approximately $34 million in grants in the Chicago region that includes Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Burghard’s presentation, “Building a Globally Competitive Ohio Brand,” will focus on the three moments of truth for winning in economic development.
First, winning the right to compete involves attracting business to the state. The brand influence and regional benefits promote competition for sites. The local brand plays a key role in winning repeat investment as 80 percent of job creation comes from reinvestment, Burghard said.
He brought 30 years of marketing experience as an executive on loan from Proctor and Gamble to the private coalition in 2005. It was created to privatize the branding of Ohio with strategies that position the state for business investment and expansion opportunities.
“Branding Ohio: State of Perfect Balance,” is the strategy developed by the coalition as the marketing arm for the state’s Department of Development. Ohio offers an uncompromising balance of life, with both a rewarding career and satisfying lifestyle.
“That message is striking an impressive chord with C-level executives, most of whom are socially conscious baby boomers who want to give back to society,” Burghard said. “In Ohio, that aspect of life is valued by others. It’s not only about what you do for a living, but what you do outside of work.”
The branding initiative creates a positive impression of Ohio, both for people who live in the state and for those businesses it wants to attract, Burghard said. The ultimate result will be more businesses locating, expanding, growing and flourishing in Ohio.
“We’re doing a great job of branding Ohio as the business-friendly state, where you can build your business and love your life,” said Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, who also serves as director of development for the state. “I’m optimistic about the future of Ohio, this region of Northwest Ohio and the City of Toledo. We need to do the same thing for Toledo as we’re doing for the state. Toledo has made its mark, not only in the state but nationally and internationally.”
The branding campaign included ads asking, “Why Ohio?” that ran in The Wall Street Journal. Two Toledo-area companies were featured in those print ads.
Imaging Systems Technology (IST), a small family-owned business in Toledo, manufactures large television touch screens used for telestrating in sports and weather reports.
Carol Wedding, president of IST, and her siblings, who grew up in Toledo, founded the company in 1997 after their parents sold another family business.
The firm has received several Ohio and federal grants for commercializing the technology, including its research and development of flexible display panels.
“Ohio has the infrastructure for economic development of high-tech businesses,” Wedding said. “We have worked with the state’s universities, including BGSU and the University of Toledo.”
Ohio offers everything businesses need to grow and thrive, such as a central location supported by a world-class logistics infrastructure, easy access to markets and supply chains, and a large productive labor pool. The state provides companies with available data, resources and sites needed to meet their business relocation or expansion needs, according to Burghard.
“We have collected research studies, articles, testimonials and other resources to provide business leaders with compelling evidence for why they should consider the pursuit of a better balance in life for themselves and their employees to be a key element of their business growth strategy,” Burghard said.
Ranked fifth in the nation of Fortune 500 companies and home to 60 Fortune 1,000 firms, “Ohio is a state where world-class companies don’t have to compromise professional or personal satisfaction in pursuit of their ambitions,” Burghard said.
Northwest Ohio’s region is anchored by a manufacturing base in glass, plastic, primary and fabricated metals, automotive assembly and parts production. Its strategic location supports a strong logistics market that includes BAX Global Inc., Federal Express and UPS, all located and expanding here.
“Our Toledo sorting hub and warehouse facility is the heart of an international logistics network,” said Steve Grier, vice president for transportation hub operations at BAX Global Inc., located at Toledo Express Airport and the other local firm featured in the “Why Ohio?” ads.
The $2.9 billion supply chain and transportation solutions company looks forward to the benefits of $1.35 billion in approved future spending on highways, bridges and other state infrastructure improvements in Ohio.
“Ohio’s world-class infrastructure helps us rise to the toughest transportation challenges,” said Grier.
At the crossroads of Interstates 75, 80 and 90 and with access to the Great Lakes, an international cargo hub and one of the leading rail centers in the country, Northwest Ohio provides a platform for doing business anywhere in the world.
A three-member panel will address the regional economy from the perspectives of labor, housing and retailing. Bruce Baumhower, president of Local 12 United Autoworkers Union; Blaine Brockman, assistant executive director of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency; and Larry Dillin, president of Dillin Consulting Company in Perrysburg, are the panelists.
BGSU’s Center for Regional Development has conducted research on a number of economic indicators, such as what 100 new jobs means to Northwest Ohio.
Each new job leads to the creation of 1.2 to 1.7 additional new jobs depending on the field of the new jobs.
The health care business generates 1.7 additional jobs for each new job it creates, while manufacturing generates 1.4, state and local governments, 1.28, with the food-and-drink business creating 1.23 jobs, according to the study.
Carroll credited Will Burns, assistant director for the Center for Regional Development, for planning the program for this year’s conference.
Carroll just returned from a trip to Oxford, England where he met with publishers of the Regional Science Policy and Practice, the new journal for the Regional Science Association International he was chosen to edit.
At press time, there were still openings for the 2008 State of the Region Conference. Anyone interested in attending can register by phone at (419) 372-8710, by e-mail at email@example.com or online at www.bgsu.edu/crd.